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By Andy Metzger

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE — Marking 50 years since the civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the Massachusetts Legislature, the House and Senate will convene the first joint session of the year on April 27.

The joint session will occur at 1 p.m. on the same day the House is preparing to begin its debate over a fiscal 2016 state budget. The actual anniversary of the speech is this Wednesday.

The Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg organized the event honoring the last century’s most famous and revered champion of racial equality in the United States.

Members of the caucus will read portions of the speech King delivered to the Legislature on April 22, 1965, according to a spokeswoman for DeLeo.

"We must be able to say that we are through with segregation in all of its dimensions now, henceforth, and forevermore! And we must end it!" King told lawmakers that day, praising the late President John F. Kennedy and telling Bay Staters he was there to "encourage" them, according to a copy of the speech.

>>>> To read King’s full speech, click here <<<<<

King had been invited to address lawmakers after James Reeb, a white Unitarian Universalist minister in Boston, was killed by a group of white men in Selma, Alabama that March.

John Davoren, who was then the House speaker, praised King at the joint session. "When the history of our troubled times is written, the outstanding contributions of this devoted man of God to the cause of human dignity and equality shall be revered by free men everywhere," Davoren said, according to text provided by the speaker’s office.

>>> To read Speaker John Davoren’s full introduction, click here <<<<

King’s speech occurred more than a year after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a few months before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and about a month after civil rights protesters were attacked by authorities in Selma, Alabama.

A decade after King’s speech, Boston became embroiled in a bitter dispute over a federal judge’s order to de-segregate city schools by busing students from one neighborhood to another.

Recent police killings of unarmed black men in Missouri, New York and South Carolina, and the police killing of a 12-year-old black boy in Ohio, have sparked protests, outrage and calls for reform.

King, who was assassinated in 1968, met his wife in Boston while studying for a doctorate in theology at Boston University. Coretta Scott King, who died in 2006, was studying concert singing at the New England Conservatory of Music when the two met, according to The King Center.

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